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Brothers of destruction: Ackerland brothers ready to rumble at Smash Bash

May 10—Lineage is common in sports, whether on the court, field or diamond. But athletic pedigree also appears in unsuspecting areas, like a pit of vehicular destruction at a demolition derby.

The derby is "in the blood" of the Ackerland brothers, and for the first time, all five local siblings will compete in the Smash Bash Demolition Derby on Saturday at EC Enterprises Motorsports Park on Albright Grade in Lewiston.

Michael Johns (43 years old), David Ackerland (37), Justin Ackerland (36), Jared Ackerland (34) and Daniel Ackerland (33) will each have a vehicle in this year's event.

"We had no intentions of (us all) doing it this year because we're all so damn busy," David Ackerland said. "But somehow I ended up with this truck, and (Justin) ended up with a car, and (Jared) got a car. ... And we thought we might as well all do it."

The Ackerland crew has competed in the flagship Lewiston-Clarkston Valley show for over a decade.

The family's eldest brother, Jeff Dietrich, was the first to compete at Eric Christansen's biannual showcase in 2010. Dietrich won the figure 8 and demolition derby events in the compact car class.

Dietrich competed one more time in 2012, but his success inspired his siblings to follow in his footsteps.

Since Dietrich's win 14 years ago, every member of the Ackerland clan has picked up a victory at the smash and bash demolition derby.

"I get adrenaline just talking about it," Justin Ackerland said. "I put myself in the derby, and I feel (the adrenaline) just running through my blood. I can't wait for that day. You always get a rush all day long, and when you're about to pull into the arena, you just feel exhausted because you've been so excited. It's not for everybody, and that's the thing. But it's in our blood so bad, I don't know how to explain it."

Johns is Ackerland Racing's most recent victor, taking first in August's compact car figure 8 event.

The second-eldest brother was also instrumental in getting all five brothers to compete in this year's race.

Johns began building his all-red full-sized pickup truck accompanied by a political theme almost immediately following his victory in August.

Johns spoke to his brothers about his truck with a Donald Trump motif, and they started getting the itch to compete again.

"I started building on them a little bit and coming over and telling these guys about them," Johns said. "And one of them would pop off like, 'Oh, I'm going to get a car now,' so it's kind of worked its way around, and we're all in the damn thing now."

David Ackerland, co-owner of Discount Auto Sales in Clarkston, stumbled upon his No. 76 Nissan pickup by accident.

A customer requested that David Ackerland take the truck out of their yard. But they offered to drive it to him if he couldn't make the trip.

Those are magic words for a derby driver. As soon as the third-eldest Ackerland heard the vehicle could run, he thought, "Oh god, I got a derby truck coming."

The Ackerland Racing crew will be a formidable opposition to Outlaw Racing and the Spring family, who have dominated the Lewiston show for years.

The Springs placed in the top-three in four out of the six events in August.

"If they didn't show up, then it wouldn't be a good crew, and it kind of creates a good rivalry between us," David Ackerland said. "We're all friends together, but when it comes down to it, we love to go after each other. Only one of us is going to end up in first, so we have to take each other out quickly."

The August event was a typical outing for the Springs. They showed up with four family members and cleaned house. But one of the few events that wasn't claimed by an Outlaw, was won by an Ackerland, which has also become par for the course.

The Ackerlands hope now that they have the numbers to match their pedigree, their family will reign supreme across the local demolition derby landscape.

"One family wants to be the top dog that night," David Ackerland said. "Get the most trophies, get the most hits; it just gets everyone going. They probably hear about our cars; we hear about their cars, and we're all trying to come up and say we got this. This is our family's night. ... I think this year we'll take it for a whole grand slam because we got (a vehicle) in every class."

Pixley may be contacted at (208) 848-2290, tpixley@lmtribune.com or on Twitter @TreebTalks